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Sunday, November 28, 2021

Tough Night For Two Jewish Boxers

Igor Lazarev and Nikita Basin both fell tonight in separate bouts at Bolton Whites Hotel in Bolton, England, United Kingdom. Lazarev dropped a six-rounder on points to Greg McGuinness. Basin was stopped in the second round of his fight against Kyle Lomotey.

Lazarev came out boxing in the first. Greg McGuinness, a southpaw, charged forward. He landed a left but ate a right for his trouble. Both guys had some success doing what they wanted in the opening period. Another left off McGuinness's jab as he moved in was a harbinger of things to come. Meanwhile, Lazarev landed an overhand right and some body shots. It was a close round.

The second and third rounds saw McGuinness's pressure wear down Igor. Lazarev landed some nice rights in the second, but it was clear the home fighter's punches thudded harder. McGuinness spent some time mauling the Israeli on the ropes. At times, Igor bent down and McGuinness took what was given him, landing on the top of Lazarev's head.

Exhausted in the corner, Igor found a spark in the fourth. After taking a right hook and a jab, Lazarev connected with a big left hook of his own. He moved his head effectively and his feet kept him out of danger. In the middle of the round, he turned into the Magic Johnson of boxing, throwing no look punches as he bent at the waist. Those blind shots connected with astonishing accuracy. He slipped oncoming fire like a defensive master.

McGuinness finished the fourth strong, but it wasn't enough to take the round. In the fifth, Lazarev continued to show off his defensive skills, but those brilliant no-look bombs were mostly a relic of the previous round. McGuinness trapped him in the corner and raked him with some more lefts. The Brit's overhand left seemed to carry the day.

Both men were in excellent condition. Even in the final three minutes, McGuinness lingered on Lazarev like a loiterer. He wouldn't stop throwing punches. Igor dodged many of them though. At one point, he was caught on the ropes once again, so he spun and landed a one-two in return. By the end of the fight, both men were trading fire. Though McGuinness missed many of his punches in the final round, enough slammed off Igor to take it.

Referee Jamie Kirkpatrick scored the bout 59-55 for McGuinness, or five rounds to one. In certain fights in Britain only the referee scores the contest. The Jewish Boxing Blog scored the bout 59-56 or four to one with one even. Lazarev is now 8-2 with 3 KOs while McGuinness improves to 3-0 with one KO.


Nikita Basin started his fight using the bob and weave tactic as he pressed forward. When he wasn't punching, he kept an unusually tight guard to protect against punches down the middle and keep his chin safe. His speed wasn't quite enough to catch Kyle Lomotey, a slick southpaw. Basin landed a snapping jab that caught Lomotey off guard, but the home fighter soon figured out Basin's style.

Lomotey boxed well and held his left glove up to guard against the overhand right, Nikita's best shot at victory. Kyle landed some good right hooks, a clean straight left, and threw a well-timed jab. Though Basin's chin was in the clear, his temple was exposed and Lomotey zeroed in. A right hook just before the bell to end the opening round put Basin down to the canvas.

Basin couldn't get much going in the second round. To his credit, he pushed forward even as Lomotey picked him off. The Brit, who reps his Ghanaian heritage, punched around the tight guard when he went to the body. He then landed an overhand left and a right hook that wobbled Basin. Lomotey followed up by teeing off on the Israeli. Referee Jamie Kirkpatrick jumped in to wave off the contest. Basin stared at the ref as he was escorted back to his corner and shrugged in resignation.

This is the second time in a little over a month Basin has been stopped. His ledger is now 4-2 with four KOs. None of his fights have gone into the fourth round. Lomotey is now 10-0 with two KOs.

Kudos to both Lazarev and Basin for showing courage by fighting tough foes on short notice in the opposition's home country.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Igor Lazarev and Nikita Basin in Tough Tonight

Lightweight Igor Lazarev and light heavyweight Nikita Basin are both in tough tonight in separate bouts against undefeated opponents at Bolton Whites Hotel in Bolton, England, United Kingdom. Lazarev faces Greg McGuinness while Basin battles Kyle Lomotey.

Lazarev (8-1, 3 KOs) will give up three a half pounds to McGuinness, a southpaw. Lazarev weighed in at 133.5 pounds while McGuinness tipped the scales at 137. McGuinness (2-0, one KO) scored a stoppage victory against another debutant in 2019 and earned a points victory over a journeyman with more than 100 losses in March of 2020. This will be his first fight in twenty months.

Lazarev has more experience and has been more active. He fought three times in 2020 and once this year. Both are listed at 5'8", but McGuiness, at 30 years old, is five years younger than Igor. This bout is scheduled for six rounds.

Basin (4-1, 4 KOs) will enter the ring with a 13 pound weight advantage. At 169 pound, Basin qualifies as a light heavyweight. At 156 pounds, Lomotey (9-0, one KO) is just two pounds above the junior middleweight limit. Basin was stopped in thirty seconds in his last fight on October 23, but fortunately Lomotey doesn't appear to be a puncher; he possess a KO ratio of just 11%. Only one of Lomotey's wins came against an opponent with a winning record.

Lomotey, who is British, is a 31 year old southpaw. That gives him a four year age advantage over Basin. But with the Israeli's size and knockout power, he has a puncher's chance. This bout is also scheduled for six rounds.

Friday, November 26, 2021

Chilemba Drops Decision to Silyagin

Isaac Chilemba dropped a twelve-round decision to Pavel Silyagin today at USC Soviet Wings in Moscow, Russia. Silyagin made the super middleweight limit by coming into the fight at 167.6 pounds while Chilemba was 171.1.

After the fight, Silyagin described Chilemba as "slippery." Chilemba is one of the best defenders of his era. Silyagin's right cheek and forehead were visibly marked up after the battle. Silyagin won comfortably on the cards, however. The judges scored the fight 120-108, 119-109, 118-110.

Chilemba is now 26-8-2 with 10 KOs. Silyagin is now 9-0 with 4 KOs. In the run-up to this fight, Chilemba indicated that this might be the last one of his career. He told Peter Kanjere that he has applied to Wits University and hopes to study astrophysics. More details to come...

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Chilemba Misses Weight, Might Retire After This Fight

Isaac Chilemba weighed in three pounds overweight for his scheduled super middleweight contest against Pavel Silyagin, which will be held at USC Soviet Wings in Moscow, Russia tomorrow, November 26. Chilemba weighed in at 171.1 pounds while Silyagin was 167.6 pounds.

This fight had several postponements which could have contributed to Chilemba missing weight although, to his credit, Silyagin came in under the 168 pound limit. More likely, Chilemba just grew out of the division. The only time he has fought as a super middleweight since 2010 was when Isaac made the weight against Fedor Chudinov earlier this year. When asked in an interview with SA Boxing Talk about making the super middleweight limit, Chilemba responded a bit unconvincingly, "We'll see. I made it last time."

Silyagin, incidentally, holds a minor belt. By coming in over the 168-pound limit, Chilemba cannot win the belt even if he wins the fight. Isaac is confident in his chances, however. "There are a lot of things missing in [his game]," Chilemba believes. "Once you put him in an uncomfortable position, he's got no idea what to do."

To SA Boxing Talk, Chilemba admitted, "My body's tired." He revealed, "I'm thinking about calling it a day either way, win or lose." The South African-based man from Malawi said he didn't want to stay in the game too long. He didn't want to end his career losing to a bunch of "nobodies." Isaac declared, "I want to finish on top. I want to finish with a bang."

But in an interview with The Combat Station a few weeks later, Chilemba slightly amended his comments on retirement. He said, "Part of me says I'm done with the sport. Part of me wants to stay a little longer." He said he will reassess his commitment to boxing after his scheduled twelve round fight with Silyagin tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Review of Thirty Dollars and a Cut Eye

Thirty Dollars and a Cut Eye: 50 Years in Boxing
By J. Russell Peltz
Peltz Boxing Promotions, Inc., 2021

Hall of Famer J. Russell Peltz brings fifty years of experience in boxing to Thirty Dollars and a Cut Eye. First entering boxing as a journalist, Peltz spent the next fifty years as a promoter and matchmaker primarily based in Philadelphia. This book is an entertaining combination of Philly boxing history mixed with a promoter's blueprint.

The most eye-opening revelations are how much promoters make (or lose) during a show, how much fighters get paid, and Peltz's relationship with others in the business. A major fear when a boxing promoter writes a book is that it's just a chance to settle scores. Peltz refreshingly admits many mistakes, praises many people. and yes, criticizes some with whom he worked. Peltz's critiques aren't attacks though, just his honest perspective.

Of the few Jewish boxers with whom Peltz did business, Mike Rossman was the most prominent. In his chapter on Rossman, the promoter portrays the "Jewish Bomber" as immensely talented but held back by an overbearing father. Just before Rossman's dad, Jimmy DePiano, died, he asked Peltz to look after his boy. Rossman's commitment to boxing after his dad's death understandably wavered. Peltz eventually cuts out the grieving son, effectively ending Rossman's career. Perhaps, that was his way of honoring DePiano's dying wish; Peltz doesn't say.

Several minyanim's worth of Jews make appearances in the book. Most, like Peltz himself, are non-participants. Marty Feldman, a middleweight who fought in the 1950s, is singled out as a mensch. He trained and managed a few fighters Peltz promoted, and Russell has more than a few kind words about Feldman.

Backstories, like those of Rossman and Feldman, give great context to the amusing, hilarious, and sometimes heartbreaking anecdotes Peltz delivers. The editing is not the cleanest, however. The typos range from the completely understandable but content-altering (mistaking Kelvin Kelly, the 1980s Philly-born light heavyweight for Kevin Kelley, the 1990s featherweight champion from New York) to the utterly trivial (Alfred Kotey is described as relocating to Silver Springs, Maryland, a mistake that maybe only a DC-area Marylander, which this reviewer happens to be, would catch. For some inexplicable reason, this error pisses off us 301ers to no end, and I'm not even from Silver Spring!). This does not detract from the book, though.

For those interested in learning about the business side of the sport or about the history of Philadelphia boxing, Thirty Dollars and a Cut Eye is the perfect book for you. And if you aren't interested in Philly boxing history- people like Joe Frazier, Bennie Briscoe, and Gabe Rosado just to name a few- maybe you just don't like boxing.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Review of Shot in a Brothel

Shot in a Brothel: The Spectacular Demise of Oscar “Ringo” Bonavena
By Patrick Connor
Hamilcar Publications, 2021

Oscar Bonavena, an Argentine heavyweight who fought in the 1960s and 1970s, faced the likes of Joe Frazier, Muhammad Ali, and Floyd Patterson. Often acting like a heel, Bonavena developed a reputation for spending other people's money and being difficult to work with. In the ring against a certain level of fighter, his power masked a crude style. His life outside the ring increasingly became unstable before his death.

Patrick Connor provides an informative and entertaining look at the man nicknamed Ringo, one free from the type of sensationalism or romanticism that can detract from such an eccentric subject. Part one is fast paced and organized like an octopus. Staring at the end of a tentacle may not make much sense until you trace it back to the body of the octopus. By the second or third tentacle, you know what you're looking at and where it's going. Italian immigration, Luis Firpo, and Juan Peron invariably trace back to Bonavena in creative and revealing ways.

Parts two and three cover fewer topics but each is described in greater depth. The stories of Joe Frazier and Joe Conforte are told in parallel in part two. By part three, Conforte, the corrupt man who owned the fateful brothel, Mustang Ranch, comes into full view.

At first glance, none of this seems particularly relevant to fans of Jewish boxing, but Jews are littered throughout the early stages of Bonavena's boxing career.

Ex-fighter Charley Goldman, a future Hall of Famer best known for training Rocky Marciano, took on the challenge of teaching Bonavena when Ringo first reached American soil. Bonavena thanked the elderly Goldman by purposely tripping the trainer while he was trying to show his Argentine charge proper footwork. Dr. Marvin Goldberg, an optometrist who could speak Spanish, became Bonavena's manager; Ringo repaid him by vacuuming up the doctor's money. Madison Square Garden's legendary matchmaker Teddy Brenner featured Oscar on a number of shows at MSG before deeming Bonavena too difficult to do business with.

Bonavena even fought a Jewish opponent. Dick Wipperman, a New York-based heavyweight, became the first fighter to go the distance with the Argentine who had knocked out his first six foes. The bout was the main event at the Garden on November 13, 1964. Joe Louis and Rocky Marciano sat ringside. According to Connor, "Wipperman avoided him all night." New York Daily News' Dick Young explains, "Oscar Bonavena, the muscle-bound Argentine goombah, wanted to fight, but doesn't know how. Dick Wipperman knows how, but didn't want to." Even Wipperman later acknowledged that he "ran like a deer."

Fans of boxing history, particularly of the 1960s and 1970s, will enjoy Shot in a Brothel. Bonavena is usually portrayed as a supporting character in the lives of Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, but with this book, Connor skillfully adds additional context to one of the most exciting eras in heavyweight boxing history.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Jew or Not: Benny Briscoe

One of the best boxers never to win a title, Benny Briscoe, remains a legend in Philadelphia boxing circles. "Bad" Bennie challenged for the middleweight world championship three times. The first attempt came against one of the best middleweights of all time, Hall of Famer Carlos Monzon. Briscoe dropped all three of his fights to Rodrigo Valdes, two of them for the title.

In 2019, the late Harold Lederman told BoxingTalk.com about Briscoe, "He had a left hook to the body that you could feel up in the rafters! He was just vicious. There was nobody- nobody- who was meaner in a boxing ring than Bennie Briscoe. He was the meanest man I ever saw. He would scare his opponents half to death when he would come out for the referee’s instructions. He was one of the first guys to have a shaved head." 

After winning his first fifteen fights- all in Philadelphia- Briscoe battled many notable boxers. In addition to Monzon and Valdes, he faced Hall of Famer Emile Griffith (twice), Hall of Famer Marvelous Marvin Hagler, and (future) world champion Vito Antuofermo. He beat many quality opponents including George Benton, Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, and Eugene "Cyclone" Hart.

He fought all of them with a Star of David on his trunks.

In his book Four Kings, George Kimball writes, "Briscoe had a certain crossover ethnic appeal as well; he had converted to Judaism and wore a Star of David on his trunks." (pg.35). If true, Briscoe wouldn't be the only Black Jewish Bennie/Benny from Philadelphia. Active boxer Benny Sinakin checks all those boxes as well. And there is another Ben Briscoe, a Jewish politician from Ireland.

Boxing Insider notes, "Boxing magazines and news reports in the early 1970s said [Briscoe] was practicing the 'Jewish faith.'"

Russell Peltz, his promoter, told a revealing story to Matt Silver of the Jewish Exponent in 2019 about a group of Israelis who sat ringside during one of Briscoe's fights. “They jumped up and waved their Israeli passports and said, ‘Hey, we’re Jewish, too, Bennie!’

“Of course, Bennie wasn’t actually Jewish, but, you know.”

After Briscoe won the fight, the Israelis stormed the ring and carried him around on the shoulders. Bennie, reportedly a kindhearted man when he wasn't fighting, didn't want to burst their bubble and enjoyed the ride.

Rob Murray, the late trainer based in Philadelphia, told Bill Dettloff of RingTV.com that Briscoe probably didn't even know what the Star of David on his trunks meant.

Dettloff explains, "He simply wore it as a personal favor to Jimmy Iselin and [then] Arnold Weiss, his Jewish managers." Iselin, the son of the New York Jets owner at the time, sold Briscoe's contract to Weiss, who happened to be Peltz's brother-in-law.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Shawn Sarembock Improves to 6-0

Junior middleweight Shawn Michael Sarembock won his last fight by fourth round TKO against Adan "Ojitos" Gamboa. The fight took place on October 8 at the famed Big Punch Arena in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico.

Sarembock is a 30 year old based in Phoenix, Arizona, United States. He turned pro in 2019 and scored four stoppage victories before the pandemic slowed his career's progress. After a sixteen month layoff, Sarembock returned to the ring in July. All six of his fights have been in Tijuana. He has yet to face an opponent with a winning record.

In the first round of his fight against Gamboa, Sarembock started out jabbing. Gamboa landed an overhand right, and Sarembock retreated to the ropes. It would be the highlight of Gamboa's night. Off the ropes, Shawn landed several left hooks to the body. He followed one of them up with a right uppercut that put down Gamboa. Sarembock showed good poise throughout the bout but was perhaps too patient after scoring that first knockdown.

Wearing a gold Star of David on the left leg of his black trunks, Sarembock dominated the second round. He threw in combination, doubled up his jab, and mercilessly attacked the body. Ojitos switched to southpaw out of desperation. Shawn reacted by attacking Gamboa's round midsection some more. Those body punches set up right uppercuts and a short right over the top. Gamboa's response was to land a straight left below the belt at the end of the second round.

The third was more of the same. Gamboa came out as a righty and ate a jab as he rushed forward. Sarembock continuously pumped the jab into Gamboa's face. Ojitos became frustrated and switched back to southpaw. At one point he taunted Shawn to come forward as Adan himself fled. Towards the end of the round, Sarembock threw a triple jab and a right behind it. Gamboa took a knee for the second knockdown of the night.

The final round lasted 48 seconds. After several more body shots, Gamboa waved his arms towards Shawn in an unconvincing imitation of punches. Sarembock landed a right uppercut, Gamboa took a knee for the third time in the fight, and referee Fernando Renteria waved off the contest.

Sarembock varied the level and intensity of his punches. He controlled center-ring and remained relaxed throughout the fight. His body shots were vicious, he possessed powerful uppercuts, but his left hook could've been tighter. Defensively, he blocked the punches. He did not slip, move his head, or use his feet. Against Gamboa, blocking mostly did the job although Ojitos connected here and there. The 36 year old native of Tijuana is a 33-fight veteran, but 28 of those have been losses. He has been stopped in half of those losses and scored just two KOs himself. Against a better opponent, Sarembock will need to show improved defense.

Regardless, Shawn is now 6-0 with 6 KOs. His father, Neil, was a decorated kickboxer from South Africa and briefly served as a boxing judge. Shawn's dream is to become the next Jewish world champion.

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Holocaust Boxers

The aim for this post is to be a reference point for those who wish to learn more about boxers victimized during the Holocaust. The intention is that this post will expand as new information becomes known.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum defines victims of the Shoah as: "Any persons, Jewish or non-Jewish, who were displaced, persecuted or discriminated against due to the racial, religious, ethnic, social and political policies of the Nazis and their collaborators between 1933 and 1945. In addition to former inmates of concentration camps, ghettos, and prisons, this definition includes, among others, people who were refugees or were in hiding." This broad definition will be used for this post.

Jewish Boxers
Lazzaro Anticoli
Salamo Arouch
Ben Bril
Francesco "Kid Francis" Buonaugurio
Robert Cohen
Pacifico Di Consiglio
Leone Efrati
Harry Haft
Shmuel "Samuel" Kenigswein
Noah Klieger
David Kropveld
Adam Paluch
Benjamin "Kid" Perez
Victor "Young" Perez
Jacko Razon
Abraham Rosenberg
Szepsl Rotholc
Eric Seelig
Nathan Shapow
Norman Shneidman
Seigfried "Siggie Lander" Stadtlander
Settimio "Terry" Terracina

Polish Boxers
Antoni Czortek
Tadeusz Pietrzykowski

Romani Boxers
Johann Trollmann

Books
Holocaust Fighters By Jeffrey Sussman
Harry Haft By Alan Scott Haft
The Boxer's Story By Nathan Shapow with Bob Harris
Johann Trollmann and Romani Resistance to the Nazis By Jud Nirenberg
The Boxing Medal By N. Schneidman
K.O. Auschwitz By José Ignacio Pérez  (in Spanish)

Movies
The Survivor (2021)
The Champion

Journalistic Articles
David, Ariel "A Real-life Inglorious Basterd: The Jewish Boxer Who Battled Nazis." Haaretz.
Kentish, Portia. "The Boxer of Auschwitz." Emerging Europe.
Newland, Christina. "Gypsy in the Ring." Vice.
"Norman Schneidman"
Smith, Martin. "Rukeli 'Johan' Trollman." Dream Deferred.

Academic Articles
Finder, Gabriel N. "The Politics of Retribution in Post-War Warsaw" in Warsaw: the Jewish Metropolis
Levis Sullam, Simon. "Uncovering the Italian Muscle Jew." Quest. October, 2017.
Paluch, Adam. "The Story of Adam Paluch." in Out of Chaos: Hidden Children Remember the Holocaust
Paulsson, Gunnar S. "The Hidden Jews of Warsaw." in How Was It Possible?: A Holocaust Reader.

The Jewish Boxing Blog Articles

Videos

If you have relevant information (particular names of boxers) please email me (link near the top of the site) or post a comment below. Comments will be moderated and likely deleted after reviewed.

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Andrew Klein: The Real Estate Heavyweight

Andrew Klein's professional boxing career extended from 2010-2016, but it lasted all of three fights. A college educated real estate mogul, Klein was in his late 30s when he entered the ring for his first prizefight.

Born in Denver, Colorado, Klein attended the University of Colorado and graduated in three years with a BS in Business Administration in 1995. In 1998, a 24-year-old Klein formed Westside Property Investment Company. His aim for the new company was simple: "development with a conscience." Klein says, "Westside strives to develop projects that generate new opportunities and create communities that will stand the test of time."

All along, Klein pursued another passion: boxing. He called himself the "Hebrew Hammer" and in 2010 turned professional. On August 20, at an age when many boxers have hung up the gloves, Klein debuted.

The fight, in Softball Country Arena, didn't go Andy's way. He dropped a four-round unanimous decision to Isaiah Barela, a 6' 205-pound heavyweight. Though the blue-eyed, curly-haired Klein held a nearly 70-pound advantage, the judges scored the bout 40-36, 39-37 (twice) for Barela. Barela would win his first four fights before dropping his next eight, last fighting in 2018.

In 2011, Klein's mansion fell into foreclosure, according to Penny Parker of The Denver Post. “It’s been a hard three years," Klein told Parker.

Three and half years after his debut, Andrew made a comeback. On March 14, 2014, Klein entered the ring against Mike Seymour with a nearly 55-pound advantage. In the boardroom Klein looks like a heavyweight boxer, but in the ring he looks like a real estate mogul. Carrying 270 pounds, Klein's body resembled another Andy -Ruiz- but without any of the former champion's ability. 

Klein was nominally a southpaw, but he barely kept his stance. He fought like a novice. Seymour, an 0-3 fighter with three stoppage losses from Nebraska, pelted Klein with at least ten straight rights to the head and midsection. What Andy lacked in skill, he made up for in toughness. Mouth open, blood rushing from his nose, he remained standing as he heard the bell to end the first round.

When the bell rang to begin the second, blood continued to seep from Klein's nose and a prominent welt formed on the left side of his forehead. But the doctor could be seen shining a light into Seymour's eyes. Whatever the diagnosis, it was bad for Seymour and the fight was stopped. Klein raised his hands in triumph, and officially, he won by way of TKO six seconds into in the second. Sometimes just surviving counts as a win.

Klein's final fight came two and half years later. On September 3, 2016 he faced Juan Jose Romero (1-0) at the Glitter Dome. Like his other two fights, this one also took place in Andy's hometown of Denver. Coming in at 266 pounds to Romero's 259, Klein survived all four rounds to earn a unanimous decision. The scores were  39-36, 38-37 (twice). In the end he wasn't as badly marked up as in his bout against Seymour.

It has been over five years since Klein last entered a ring. He finished with a record of 2-1 with one KO. In a sport that has seen rich men corrupt it for their own vanity- men such as Mexican businessman Jorge Kahwagi- there was a certain nobility in Klein's toughness. The blood and welts were real.

Having bought and sold hundreds of millions of dollars worth of assets, Klein continues to run Westside Property Investment Company. The 47 year old is a single father of three.

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Chilemba-Silyagin Postponed Two Weeks

Isaac Chilemba's oft-postponed fight with Pavel Silyagin has been pushed back once again. It is now scheduled for November 26, still in Moscow, Russia for now.

Chilemba is no stranger to delays. He was originally scheduled to fight Fedor Chudinov in March of 2020 when covid-19 shut down the world and postponed the fight. In February of this year, Chilemba and Chudinov finally fought to a split draw.

Chilemba-Silyagin is turning into the Russian version of Teofimo Lopez-George Kambosos.

Lopez was supposed to fight Kambosos in June, but the fight was delayed when Lopez tested positive for covid-19. There was an August fight date that came and went. The fight was moved to a Monday, October 4, and then pushed back to October 16. The promotional company, Triller eventually defaulted and lost the right to stage the fight. Cletus Seldin took over the October 16 spot on the Triller card and shined.

George Kambosos's position as "mandatory challenger" for one of Lopez's alphabet organization belts is the only reason the fight wasn't scrapped along the way. There are four major alphabet organizations and Lopez owns four out of five of the belts. That's not a typo; one of them has two world champions, down from the four they had up until this summer.

Kambosos is a good fighter and deserves respect, but there is so much talent in and around the lightweight division, there really isn't any justification for him to be a mandatory challenger. The southpaw technician, Vasiliy Lomachenko, lost a close decision to Lopez last year in a fight that many thought was a draw. Then there's slick boxer Devin Haney, social media star Ryan Garcia, southpaw puncher Gervonta Davis, and Olympian Shakur Stevenson lurking. Such is boxing. Lopez-Kambosos is now scheduled for November 27.

Chilemba knows all about the bizarre business of boxing. He has been on the wrong side of many close decisions in the opponent's hometown and now he's dealing with the shenanigans with his upcoming fight date. This bout against Silyagin was originally scheduled for October 15. It was then moved to November 5. Then, it was pushed back to November 12.

Chilemba told The Times of Malawi, “Russia is under a complete lockdown due to an increase in covid cases, so the fight has been moved to November 26th.”

The Times reporter, Mphatso Malidadi, notes that the lockdown may only be confined to Russia's capital. Yesterday, a boxing card took place in Grozny, Chechnya, Russia in which Chechen warlord Ramzan Kadyrov enjoyed strawberries as he watched the fights.

Regardless, Chilemba is keeping his fingers crossed that the fight will happen. “I hope the lockdown won’t be extended, and we will be allowed to enter Russia," Chilemba said. "It is very frustrating. This is the fourth time the date has been changed. I am actually losing hope if it is going to happen this year at all.”

The Jewish Boxing Blog's preview of Chilemba-Silyagin can be viewed here.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Alaverdian Hopes to Fight in the U.S. in January

In an interview with Mike Orr on his show Knuckle Up, David Alaverdian said he hopes to fight in January in the United States against an opponent higher in the ranks than himself. Alaverdian has an ambitious plan. Though just 5-0 with 4 KOs, the 28 year old U.S.-based Israeli hopes to fight for a world title by the beginning of 2023.

David's head coach is legendary trainer, Floyd Mayweather Sr. "I come from a little town in Israel, the country itself doesn't have [hardly] any boxing in it, I used to train in a bomb shelter..." Alaverdian told Orr in an endearing display of disbelief. "Then I come to train in the United States, in the mecca of boxing, Las Vegas, and I'm being trained by the guy I was watching on tv! You gotta be kidding me! It just blows my mind. I don't believe what's happened to me."

Alaverdian has the speed and the skills to make good on his ambition even if he doesn't yet have the résumé. He has yet to face a fighter with a winning record although that is not unusual for boxers with his level of pro experience. It is unusual, however, for a fighter with his ambitious timeline.

But his biggest obstacle to moving up the ranks so quickly might just be the numbers. BoxRec lists only 532 male flyweights in the world. For reference, there are nearly 1,700 male welterweights. As a result, there aren't as many "step-up" opportunities to face. To complicate things further, covid restrictions limit the pool of potential opponents. Alaverdian would most likely need to fight someone based in the U.S. Miguel Cartegena and Marco Sustaita are a couple of beatable step-up options, but the pickings are pretty slim.

Whenever his next fight happens to be, Alaverdian will be ready because he trains year round. His walking around weight is between 117-120.  He usually does cardio work in the morning and boxing in the evening. David told Orr he loves to spar and travels around Las Vegas to find as much sparring as possible. In sparring, he has developed shoulder issues though. Alaverdian likes to switch stances and has experienced these shoulder issues in clinches to whichever his lead shoulder happens to be at a given time. "I stretch a lot and I do a lot of resistance band exercises," David said about how he has dealt with the shoulder problems, "and it  does help a lot."

In the short-term, David has planned a month-long vacation visiting friends and family back home in Israel. Then he'll come back to train in Nevada and hopefully make his U.S. debut when the calendar turns. David's long-term plans involve fighting in the 112, 115, and 118 pound divisions and acquiring a few world title belts along the way before his career is done.

Monday, November 1, 2021

Mor Oknin to Fight in December

Mor Oknin's second professional fight was originally scheduled for November 18 in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico. However, it has been postponed until December 11 and will take place in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. Oknin's first fight was also in Mexico, in Sinaloa, north of Jalisco. He scored a first round stoppage victory when his opponent bowed out due to injury after Oknin had started to take control of the contest.

Oknin, who is from Israel, fights in the super flyweight division. Fellow Jewish boxer David Alaverdian, who has fought at flyweight and super flyweight, has also fought exclusively in Mexico. Mexico might seem like a strange choice for a couple of Jewish boxers from Israel. Though the first Jew to arrive in Mexico came 500 years ago (believed to be Hernando Alonso in 1521) there are only about 65,000-70,000 Jews currently living in Mexico. For reference, about twice the number of Jews live in Montgomery County, Maryland, U.S.A. than in all of Mexico.

Some American boxing writers and pundits look down on fights in Mexico, but that's unfair. In the United States, the commissions in California, Nevada, New York and Pennsylvania do a better job than others in regulating who can fight. Too many commissions in the U.S. are far too lax. Similarly, there are areas in Mexico where it's easy to build up a record and other places where the opponents are better qualified.

The truth is Mexico the place to go to fight in the 112 or 115 pound divisions. According to BoxRec, Mexico is home to the most fly and super flyweights by far. There are about 130 super flyweights and 140 flyweights in the country. That's more than 25% of all the 112 and 115 pounders in the world.

Japan (about 150 total) and the Philippines (70ish) also have a lot fighters in those two weight classes, but Mexico has more than both of them combined. BoxRec says their are 33 American super flyweights and just 23 flyweights. Believe it or not, there are only 43 fighters between 109 and 115 pounds in all of Europe! Even Thailand has more, 44 in total, in the two classes. So Mexico is the place to be for super fly and flyweights.

Fortunately, both Oknin and Alaverdian have had positive experiences in Mexico. Alaverdian told Mike Orr that the atmosphere at a fight in Mexico is awesome. "When they hear I'm from Israel, they're a bit surprised, but very cheerful." The crowd is happy when he wins and David poses for many pictures and signs many autographs after his fights there. "It's fun. I can't lie; it's pretty cool," he said of the experience. Oknin's appreciation for Mexican culture has grown since fighting there last time. He now has a deeper affinity for the language, the country's hip hop, and its boxers.

Oknin's bout is scheduled for four rounds. No opponent has yet been named.